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Virtual house calls from doctors help in COVID-19 fight

Telemedicine has been on the rise for years, but the coronavirus outbreak has made it critical.

MCLEAN, Va. — In the middle of this coronavirus outbreak, hospitals and health care systems lean heavily on the Internet; same as you. One of those aspects, virtual doctor visits, has taken on an important role in the fight against the virus.

It's called telemedicine, or telehealth, and it has grown every year in America. The coronavirus outbreak has increased the need for the virtual visits.

"You can see if a patient looks sick,” Kaiser Permanente Dr. Dennis Truong said. "You can see their skin color. You can see their diaphoretic or sweating."

RELATED: Why choosing a virtual doctor's visit will save lives during coronavirus

Since 2013, health care insurance and provider Kaiser Permanente has offered Telemedicine in some form. It has grown year-to-year, but in this time of social isolation it has become essential.

"We want patients to stay at home. We don't want patients to infect other patients," Truong said.

Just how big has it grown? In March, telemedicine visits went up 50 percent across the country. Kaiser Permanente reported visits have doubled since the crisis began.

"It's really greate . Whad the infrastructure in place it allowed us to scale very quickly," Truong said.

It’s not just about social isolation. Telemedicine can streamline the coronavirus treatment process.

"If you think you may have been exposed, contact your health care professional by phone or video chat before you decide to come in... so we can assess and triage you properly on where to go," Truong explained.

As you may have seen, the coronavirus is overloading certain hospitals and clinics. Telemedicine is another tool doctors believe can lighten some of that burden.

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